Photo Courtesy of Assemblywoman Pheffer Amato’s Office
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato congratulates Judge Hirsch on the QMTC milestone.
By Michael V. Cusenza
Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato (D-Howard Beach) joined acting Queens County Supreme Court Judge Marcia Hirsch on Friday in celebrating the 20th anniversary of Queens Misdemeanor Treatment Court.
One of nine “drug courts” in the city, QMTC “places non-violent, drug-addicted offenders into treatment in an effort to break the cycle of drug abuse, addiction, crime and jail.”
According to the Hon. Judy Harris Kluger (Ret.), the former deputy chief administrative judge for Drug Treatment Court Operations & Planning, the basic concept behind the drug-court initiative involves an intervention by the court, in cooperation with defense counsel, prosecution, treatment, education, and law enforcement. Instead of jail or probation, the courts help you enter and stay in a drug or alcohol treatment program. The plan includes regular court appearances and supervision by the presiding judge, according to QMTC.
“In return for a promise of a reduced sentence, appropriate non-violent addicted offenders are given the option of entering voluntarily into court-supervised treatment. The rules and conditions of participation are clearly stated in a contract entered into by the defendant, the defense attorney, the district attorney, and the court,” Kluger added.“The results have been overwhelmingly positive.”
The QMTC is a “special courtroom” located in the Queens Criminal Court building in Kew Gardens. According to the court, most people will spend anywhere from one to two years in the QMTC program.